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Unification ministry postpones Panmunjom tours as coronavirus cases spike

All News 17:51 February 24, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry said Monday it will postpone the resumption of a tour program to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom as a precaution as the number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea has been rising sharply.

The tours to Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, had been scheduled to take place from Feb. 26-28 for Seoul-based diplomats, displaced people who hail from North Korea and separated families.

But the program has now been called off due to coronavirus concerns, the ministry said.

The program, which takes visitors to the southern side of Panmunjom, was suspended in October last year when the highly contagious African swine fever was reported near the border with North Korea.

The opening ceremony for a center aimed at promoting exchanges between North Korean defectors and local residents in Seoul was also "postponed until after April taking into consideration the COVID-19 virus situation and others," the ministry's spokesperson said in a regular press briefing earlier in the day.

South Korea has confirmed over 800 cases of patients infected with the new COVID-19 virus since its first outbreak in late January.


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